Johnson thinks extension talks with Bears will ‘heat up' soon


PHOENIX -- Jaylon Johnson wants to be a Bear for a long time.

The third-year cornerback is eligible for an extension this season and has made his desire to stay in Chicago long-term known. He hopes that he and the Bears' brass will be able to iron out something this offseason to keep him a Bear for the foreseeable future.

"That’s definitely my goal," Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago on Wednesday at Super Bowl LVII's Radio Row. "That’s what I’ve always wanted to do is get my second contract after my third season with the Bears. There’s definitely been some talks. But I feel like it will heat up in due time after the free agency wave, the draft and things like that. We’ll just see where it goes.”

Johnson is confident that the Bears are on the right trajectory as they enter what could be a transformative offseason. The Utah product has no doubt that Justin Fields is the franchise quarterback to lead the Bears back to the top of the NFC North.

He's also aware that general manager Ryan Poles has close to $100 million in salary cap space to work with this offseason. A large chunk of that money will be bookmarked for free agents that can help the Bears on their ascent toward the NFL summit.

But Johnson knows what priority No. 1 should be for Poles.

"Step One is pay me," Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago, laughing. "That's definitely Step One."

Johnson entered the 2022 season on a mission to prove he's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

He believes he proved that. Opposing offenses mainly chose to attack rookie Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, and other members of the Bears' secondary, leaving Johnson's side of the field alone.

Overall, Johnson, who missed the final three games of the Bears' season after being placed on injured reserve, is pleased with how he acquitted himself ahead of an offseason that will include extension talks.

"I felt like I had a very consistent year," Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago. "I feel like I had a very consistent year, I feel like in coverage. I feel like the only negative to take away is not having the interceptions that I wanted. For whatever reason, they just don't seem to fall in my hands. I don't seem to get the tips, the overthrows, the bad passes. I don't seem to be in a position to get too many interceptions.

"I feel like for me it's really just being sound in coverage. For me, that's something I wanted to do was be dominant in coverage and that's something I feel like I've been able to get better at throughout my years in the league. I feel like there's really not anything that I can't do. It's just moreso just trying to create things. But at the end of the day, I'm not a player that tries to force things either. It's just staying true to myself as well. But overall, very solid and consistent."

RELATED: Johnson 'a believer' that Fields is Bears' franchise QB

Johnson battled an abdominal injury all season and went on injured reserve with a broken finger after Week 15. He says his body is feeling good after some downtime.

Johnson has ultimate belief in his ability as an elite cover corner. His offseason focus is on ensuring he can withstand the rigors of a 17-game season.

"I mean, honestly, just making my body better," Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago. "Trying to try some things out nutritionally, try some new things out. I'm trying to figure out the best way to maximize my body. I feel like my game is my game. At the end of the day, I'm a lockdown guy. I'm not too concerned or trying to find a way to make interceptions. Definitely want to make the ones that come, but trying to find a way to weed some passes out.

"But at the end of the day, I am who I am. I don't plan on changing my game. There's not anything I feel like I can't do. Just sharpening my tools like I always do every offseason. Just attacking and wanting to dominate."

Despite a 3-14 rebuilding season, Johnson believes that the Bears have a winning foundation with himself, Fields, Eddie Jackson, and others. Now, they must build.

“I feel like, for me, I’m very confident," Johnson told NBC Sports Chicago of the Bears' trajectory. "I feel like we got a lot of very good core pieces. Now we have opportunities to get guys who support that. You mention the money, the picks. I feel like even the picks we had, our last rookie class was a really good rookie class. I feel like we definitely have the pieces to keep building and moving in the right direction. It’s just on us as leaders to keep the culture, keep building the culture to what we want it to be and just find a way, find a formula to win ball games.”

Johnson is part of the Bears' formula to go from NFC doormat to perennial contender. He will be for quite some time as long as the two sides can find common ground this offseason.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us